Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ode To A Beagle

Ode To A Beagle

We are sad today because we miss our friend.
He was a hound dog—a mixed-breed beagle with a coat of white, black, and plenty of auburn brown. Highway was his name, but he answered to most anything, especially if the call promised food, pets, or walks.

Highway LOVED food, and would gladly steal any morsel left unattended. His favorite was butter or leftover butter wrappers, which were always plentiful in our house. If there were any wrappers left unattended or in the trash, we would often find a tipped-over trash can with a trail of wrappers leading into the living room. Chairs and tables were rarely good defenses against this hungry hound dog, as he would climb and leap with amazing agility to follow his nose. If you turned your back to food set on the counter it would be gone in seconds, even including a cooling cake. One of Highway’s care-takers lovingly referred to him as Houdini.

Highway’s poor table manners were one of the first things we learned about him when we adopted him about five years ago. We were his second or third family—no one is really sure as he was abandoned as a puppy along State Route 37. Highway was already an old dog when we adopted him, and was not interested in learning too many new tricks.
Highway also loved his comfort, and would help himself to whatever vacant spot could be found on the furniture.

We caved to his demands for comfort and tried to restrict him to just using one sofa in the family room. But Highway wanted access to all the furniture he could reach or climb upon. He was not allowed on our blue, sleeper sofa, and when discovered on it, he would humor us by getting down—sometimes. He knew that all he had to do was wait until we left the room.

He especially loved to be near people, and rest his head on someone’s lap while they watched a video or read a book. As a beagle, Highway loved to track and chase rabbits. He never caught any, as far as we know, but his nose could usually detect them long before his eyes, and he would plunge his head into any suspected burrow, and dig enthusiastically for his prey.

Highway inspired stories and art projects for the kids. When in 4th grade, Mac wrote a story that won third place in a Humane Society Essay Contest. Here’s an excerpt:

There’s an interesting story of how Highway got his name, and how he came to live with us. One day a woman was driving along State Road 37, when something caught her eye. It was a straggly, little, beagle puppy sitting on the side of the highway. She pulled over to help him. She decided to take him home. She gave him the name Highway, because she found him on the highway. She kept him for five years, and during that time she had a baby. With two dogs, her baby and her husband, their small house was very crowded. So they decided to move to Indianapolis. They couldn’t bring two dogs with them so they put Highway up for adoption. We heard about Highway from our friends, and after we spent a lot of time thinking about it, we decided to adopt him.

Highway is really cute and fun to have around. He’s especially cute when he begs for food, because his ears perk up. He also likes to play, not with toys, but with humans. Sometimes Highway and I play chase. I know he wants to play, when he starts running around the house like crazy. I chase him into a room so he thinks he’s safe, but when I come charging in, he ZOOMS out like a race car. He also enjoys being petted and having his belly scratched. When you stop petting him, he’ll put his snout under your hand and push on it until you start petting him again. I’m really glad we adopted Highway. He is a true friend.

Ethan also wrote a poem titled A Beagle in the Fridge. Here it is:

A Beagle in the Fridge

There is a beagle in my fridge
With his butt in the hot sauce
And his nose in the chicken
And his paw in the mashed potatoes.
His tail is frozen and solid
While he’s slurping the milk
With cracked egg shells on his back.
And when you open the door
He only whines for MORE!

Highway taught us what it means to be a hound. He would hound us for walks, hound us for snacks, and hound us for pets and affection. Highway had no interest in toys, and quickly lost interest in other dogs once he exchanged sniffs. He would bark and bay at the neighborhood dogs he could see walking by our house, but only whine gently when he saw Sammie, his dog friend from across the street.

We are grateful for the all things Highway taught us, including patience, diligence, commitment, loyalty and compassion. Beagles tend to be independent thinkers due to their breeding history, and as such, he had little use for blind obedience. While this trait can be frustrating to impatient humans, upon reflection, we can appreciate the benefits of not following the herd. We have even become more open minded about the virtues of sniffing butts.


Hootie said...

It was hard to read this and not get teary-eyed.

My thoughts are with you all. I know as time passes Highways antics will be recalled again and again and bring smiles each time you all think of him.

It sounds like Highway was a pretty good teacher. :)

Hugs to you all-

Anonymous said...

Mac created a short comic about putting Highway to sleep:


Esmerelda said...

We loved highway and will miss him too. We loved when he took his doggie vacations at our house. RIP Highway.

xo Amy

Steph said...

I'm having a special cup of tea to celebrate Highway and all my good memories of him.

zenabu said...

Goodbye Highway.

Kelly said...

We were so sad to hear this news! We never had a chance to meet Highway, but heard only good things about this lovable beagle.

Hugs & Kisses!

Anonymous said...

Sorry about your friend. It's the hardest thing that can happen. Looks like highway had a good life though!